On the Road: Boston for a Birthday Celebration!

29 and still looking pretty good for our age.

Bridget and I go way back. The house that I grew up in and her grandmother’s house had backyards that faced each other across the alleyway. In the summer, we would play together in each other’s plastic wading pools. But, we didn’t become best friends until later. One day, during Easter Break when we were about 11, I spotted her from my living room window, riding her bike repeatedly around the block one day during Easter break and I decided to jump on my bike and join her. I’m not sure how many times we circled Darien and Mildred Streets during the spring and summer that followed, but she’s been stuck with me ever since.

Bridget is currently in Boston, finishing up a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and later on this week she’ll be turning 29. So, I went up to visit her to celebrate this momentous occasion.

We had manicures, pedicures and massages. We went shoe shopping and to the Institute of Contemporary Art. We got quite addicted to Draw Something and Words with Friends.

Oh, we ate quite a bit too.

Here are a few highlights from the weekend, and places you should put on your list, too, should you find yourself in Beantown.

Greek Corner Restaurant: Right down the street from Bridget’s condo, this is a great spot for lunch or dinner. I think we’ve been there on the majority of my visits to Boston and I know it’s one of Bridget’s regular spots. Guy Fieri has visited this place for his show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (he signed the wall), although I feel like it doesn’t fall into any of these categories. The gyro sandwich plate (made with beef or lamb), which is served with rice or fries, is my favorite. Portions are generous and prices are very reasonable.

Diva: One of the many ethnic restaurants located in the Davis Square area, Diva is an Indian restaurant. It has a weird sort of ambience/décor which makes it look a bit lounge-y, but the food is quite good. I really enjoyed the Lamb Tikka Masala and the Paneer Pakora (cheese fried in a chickpea batter).

Flour: Someday, I’ll own a little restaurant and it will be just like Flour. This place has it all—it’s casual and inviting, with an amazing selection of sandwiches, salads and baked goods. Most importantly, they have the best sticky buns in the entire world. They have just the right amount of cinnamon between their layers and layers of slightly chewy dough. But, most importantly, they are doused with a rich, dark caramel sauce and pecans. It’s no wonder that these sweet treats beat out Bobby Flay’s version in an episode of Throwdown. I mean look at them—hello, gorgeous.

Blue Ginger: Located in Wellesley, a suburb of Boston, Blue Ginger is an Asian Fusion restaurant owned by Ming Tsai. He was there the night we visited and seemed very friendly, chatting with many customers and in some cases bringing out dishes from the kitchen to their tables.

Bridget had made the reservation a couple of weeks ago, and then was a bit nervous about it because she noticed some recent negative reviews on Yelp, regarding the food and service. I’m not sure where those reviewers were coming from, because Bridget, her husband Bill and I had no complaints. The restaurant was very busy, so service did seem to lag a bit at times. But, the staff seemed aware of these issues and made an effort to check back in with tables on a regular basis (I noticed that they brought the couple next to us complimentary salads at one point because their entrees were taking quite awhile to come out of the kitchen).

I started off with the spicy sweet potato soup, the heat from which was toned down a bit by a drizzle of Greek yogurt across the top. Next, I had the pan seared scallops which were served in a velvety black garlic butter sauce and accompanied by a refreshing mint salad and lemon mushroom risotto.

Bridget’s husband, Bill had the Foie Gras-Shiitake Shumai and the Garlic-Black Pepper Lobster, another signature dish. The former looked a little dull on the plate because it was various shades of pale beige, but the flavors were extremely rich (side note: foie gras is really yummy served warm). The lobster dish was beautifully presented—the shell stood up on the plate and was stuffed with lemongrass fried rice. The lobster meat had been removed and topped with pea tendril salad. The lobster was tender and rich, but I would recommend staying away from this dish if you are not a huge fan of black pepper, because as the name suggests, there is a fair amount of it in this dish.

The birthday girl had two of the restaurants specialties: the tuna poke served on top of a crispy rice cake and the miso-marinated butterfish. The butterfish dish has apparently generated some controversy because it’s actually sablefish. The whole issue is addressed here, but all you really need to know is that it’s pretty delicious—a bit rich, and well, buttery.

And, what would a birthday dinner be without candles in your dessert?

She's pretty excited about donuts and fire.

 

Taj: On Sundays, the Taj Hotel offers a brunch buffet on its roof deck and Bridget picked it out for a birthday brunch. The weather was fairly overcast on the day we visited, so unfortunately the view from the 17th floor was just so-so. But, it’s probably really pretty on a sunny day. Chances are you might not even notice the view because you’ll be too busy indulging in every kind of food imaginable, from sushi to antipasti, made to order omelettes and waffles, Indian specialties, fruit, and desserts. I think we tried everything. Best of all, they kept refilling our champagne glasses!

We followed brunch with a trip to the spa. I’ve decided that a heavy duty food coma, slight champagne buzz and a massage will henceforth be my ideal way to spend a rainy afternoon.

With the exception of a broken down Amtrak train that delayed my arrival home by a couple of hours, it was a great time.

So, happy birthday, BFF! I’m so grateful for the laughter (and a few tears), ridiculousness (Chicago Hope, the Game?) and fun times that we’ve shared over the years. Here’s to many more.

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